No food and drink spot in Reno is quite like Pignic Pub & Patio.
Downstairs, Pignic is a sports parlor (as it’s called), with sports décor, draft beer, and seasonal cocktails whose creators the list name checks. Upstairs, Pignic becomes a taproom across a trio of themed rooms, with featured drafts from Revision Brewing Co. of Sparks.
Pignic is a restaurant, its kitchen a retrofitted trailer sending out shareable plates, burgers and sandwiches, and brunch standouts like tri-tip arepas with a flurry of cotija. An enclosed garden (with fruit trees) flourishes out front, an ongoing experiment in urban agriculture.
Pignic also is a gathering spot (see: its capacious deck), a destination for live music, an event space (rent individual areas or the whole hog) and, famously, a place where folks can bring their own meats and cook them in the grill yard.
“This all requires a very unique space,” said Trevor Leppek, owner-operator of Pignic. “If I had to pick up and recreate this elsewhere in Reno, I would have to change the concept drastically, and then it wouldn’t be Pignic.”
On Oct. 23, Pignic is celebrating its seventh birthday with brunch, vintage clothing pop-ups, drink specials, live music and giveaways, from noon to 3 p.m. at its spread at 235 Flint St. The other morning, I caught up with Leppek to chat about the anniversary — and how gettin’ piggy wit it continues to evolve.
Huge cocktails to share
Earlier this year, Pignic began emerging from the pandemic along with other Reno restaurants.
A new Pignic logo debuted, accomplished in an offbeat script, the “P” curling stylishly like a pig’s tail. The Pignic building was repainted, its architectural trimmings brightened in soothing sea foam green.
Leppek revamped the cocktail menu with large format drinks like the Party All the Thyme, a bibulous mingling of Chopin vodka, grapefruit liqueur, sparkling rosé, citrus, soda water and thyme simple syrup. The drink arrives in a pitcher and serves four over ice with sliced lemon and thyme sprigs.
The name of the cocktail? An homage, Leppek said, to “Party All the Time,” the 1985 Eddie Murphy song about what his “girl” likes to do continually.
Live music is back
Weekday happy hour at Pignic now includes half-off bottles of wine with purchase of a charcuterie board. The menu newly highlights more shareable plates, like the charcuterie or smoked wings or a heap of Pignic Totchos: potato tots and a choice of protein draped in beer cheese sauce.
“As we’re coming out of the pandemic, it’s a great way to get people together, sitting across from each other and sharing food,” Leppek said.
There’s also a new fryer in the kitchen and new Pignic merchandise. A third-Saturday brunch with local clothiers (like the brunch celebrating the seventh anniversary) kicked off in September, and live music and community events are back now that regulations permit.
Of permits and bureaucrats
Leppek and his business partner Ryan Goldhammer launched Pignic in October 2014 in a renovated 1916 Craftsman home. Today, Leppek is sole owner-operator of the pub, while Goldhammer owns and operates the Noble Pie Parlors they founded together.
From the beginning, as is the case today, Pignic’s hybrid model was distinctive, something that created challenges that came to a head in 2017, Leppek remembered.
In one case, the partners learned the pub couldn’t be open past 11 p.m. because of zoning in the neighborhood, a mix of offices, residences and parking lots between the Truckee River and California Avenue. Pignic managed to obtain a special nightclub permit to stay open late, a necessity for a pub.
In another case, there was a kerfuffle with the Washoe County Health District, later resolved, over folks prepping and grilling foods in the grill yard. That resolution was a good thing in 2018 for Emily Toschi and her husband, who were gut renovating a home they’d just purchased in Reno.
“We were camping in our house with an ice chest and no kitchen and a mattress on our floor upstairs,” Toschi said. The couple, tired of roughing it, grabbed some steaks, then hit the grill at Pignic. “It was really nice and really convenient and gave us the sense of having a kitchen.”
In late 2020, Leppek and Goldhammer amicably dissolved their joint partnership.
“That was a highlight — me taking the reins and focusing on what was seemingly more my baby,” he said of the pub. “Really getting the business to where I want it to be.”
But even as Leppek continues to pursue this goal, to introduce changes, the grill yard has not lost its pride of place, its essential importance to the character of Pignic.
“That original ethos is still ringing true,” Leppek said, “and I think that’s pretty cool.”
In other words, semper porcus.
Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor for Reno News & Review. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsJLW or on Facebook personally or at @FoodNevada. Sign up here for the Reno News & Review free weekly newsletter highlighting our most recent stories.